Lexical Familiarity and Processing Efficiency: Individual Differences in Naming, Lexical Decision, and Semantic Categorization

Mary Jo Lewellen, Stephen Goldinger, David B. Pisoni, Beth G. Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Scopus citations


College students were separated into 2 groups (high and low) on the basis of 3 measures: subjective familiarity ratings of words, self-reported language experiences, and a test of vocabulary knowledge. Three experiments were conducted to determine if the groups also differed in visual word naming, lexical decision, and semantic categorization. High Ss were consistently faster than low Ss in naming visually presented words. They were also faster and more accurate in making difficult lexical decisions and in rejecting homophone foils in semantic categorization. Taken together, the results demonstrate that Ss who differ in lexical familiarity also differ in processing efficiency. The relationship between processing efficiency and working memory accounts of individual differences in language processing is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-330
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1993


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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